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Eric Paul Shaffer Lahaina / United States, Male, 59
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Eric Paul Shaffer's last comments on poems and poets

  • (6/8/2007 8:16:00 PM)

    Jefferson, you are so, like, totally metaphorical. Similely speaking, you are like a very humorous and funny and amusing guy, and your poems always remind me why I read poems on this site-because yours are good, thoughtful, literary, and insightful. Thanks for the, like, lift.

  • (6/8/2007 8:02:00 PM)

    Nice work, Sherrie. The best part is the understatement of the ending-you really pulled that off. I think the situation is a little unclear at the beginning-but by the time we reach the end all things fall into place. As usual, I hope for a 10% reduction in revision (as I do in my waistline) , and I agree with the comments above about line breaks. Line Breaks can be powerful things; break where YOU want to, not where the machine wraps the line. Choosing a place to break may include suspense, balance, and surprise, so look for places you can do that for the reader. As always, your eye for details is infallible. Thanks for a good poem.

  • (5/18/2007 1:14:00 PM)

    Many good lines here-'life and liquor' stands out as a catchy phrase, too. You know me, Sherrie, I always appreciate a 10% reduction in any poem, and I think this one can stand it. The brilliance here is that the poet overlooks the most important fact. I might underplay that at the end and let the reader figure it out and also reduce the narrator's presence a very slight bit. I love the dialogue. I really like this poem.

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  • Eric Paul Shaffer (5/14/2007 11:55:00 AM) Post reply

    I admire the pluck in these two poets. To agree to a down-and-dirty confrontation of poems is unusual, and it makes room for people like me to think about what appeals to me and why.

    My vote is for 'Pop.'

    The comments from others voting in this contest indicate that the votes split pretty clearly along the lines of those who paint with words and those who speak with them. As one who uses words to speak, I favor the work of Carter, whose words are conversational and colloquial, which some may mistake as 'chatty.' The primary appeal of words like Carter's is that they make a poem accessible to everyone, and IMNSHO, that is the way poetry should be-accessible-and that is what poetry should do-communicate.

    Add to that that the meaning of the poem is relevant and thought-provoking, and Carter is more successful.

  • Eric Paul Shaffer (1/15/2007 11:00:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    It’s tough to follow such a work as the previous posting, but JC has done it again. No, the other one, our very own Jefferson Carter of PoemHunter.com (among other things) has a new book available. Sentimental Blue is a heart- and gut-bustingly collection of lines that will pierce even the dullest ears. Every line is another opportunity for amusement and amazement.

    There is hardly a funnier poem than “Charles Fishman Kicks Me Out of His Reading.” Anyone who has suffered through lame poetry readings that limp on forever can sympathize. I salute Jefferson, however, for coming up with the idea of being annoying enough to be ejected from the event, an audience typically so slight that the reader will endure nearly anything to avoid reducing the members by the 16% that any one of them will take with them when they leave. In his seat, he fidgets and “turns to the woman beside [him]/ & hums ‘We gotta get outta this place.’” And the event that is evitable (as opposed to inevitable) swiftly follows.

    Jefferson looks scarily deep into himself and shows us what really hurts, too. “Twitch” recounts how much we annoy the ones we love, and “My First Love” reveals how quickly, deftly, and effortlessly they can erase us.

    But he shows us what real love looks like, too. His excellent love ode “Litter Box” gives us a peek at the small things that make love roar like a well-fed furnace. “Finally, A Love Poem for my Wife” jokes until it jerks your heart taut: “You’re my sticky mat, my/ power anthem, my vertebrae/ like pearls on a string, ... You’re my lungs, my air.”

    And Sherrie will certainly approve of “Bad Girl.” Jefferson says to the lady in his poem: “I used to be/ bad too....// You’re too old for those/ combat boots & tattoos, / the razor wire around/ your wrists and down/ your spine, those strangers/ saying ‘Man, she’s/ wild.’” Yikes.

    As you know, Jefferson is a little shy, but you know me, I can’t imagine why any of us wouldn’t try to sell a book that we worked so hard to write, or keep silent about a book that can speak to so many people. One of the things I love most about poetry is this: most poets and other people don’t know they need your poetry till you let them know it’s available, but once they know, they really do want it. Please, step right up.

    Sentimental Blue is not only wise, the book is beautiful. You can get it from Chax Press, the publisher, whose address you can easily find by using Google (the search engine we seek when we want to see what everyone is saying about us) . Get your copy while it’s still warm.

    There’s even a poem entitled “PoemHunter.com.” Does it mention you? Be the first on your block to buy the book, find out, and read for yourself the art that Carter makes.

  • Eric Paul Shaffer (8/25/2006 7:48:00 PM) Post reply

    I’m not saying that art exists simply to convey beauty either. I’m saying that anything that has a purpose can convey beauty, not that it necessarily will.

    I don’t agree that there is art in everything, though. Art, to exist, has to have some source in an effort to communicate, or even better, an effort to get “work” done, whatever the work might be.

    I can certainly understand your objection to having artists ratified by an audience, but as I see it, objecting to such ratification is pointless: it happens whether you like it or not.

    If not the readers, who would you have decide such a thing? Surely not the writer of poems him or herself. Too much vested interest. The academy? I don’t think so-too much to be gained there by finding the most obscure and complicated lines with which to make tenure and gain promotions. The anthologies? Those profit from familiarity only-and there is not a large drive to explore in that. Then, who?

    I love the case of Emily Dickinson-especially because it is fun to point out that when she did die, she really was “Nobody” to most readers. Utterly unknown but to a small circle of friends, who, fortunately for her, were very influential and, again fortunately for her, “touched up” her work and published it in a form that people could read without freaking out at the oddness of the original presentation.

    In effect, Emily was a writer of poems when she died, but far from the status of a poet. Calm down. Let me state this clearly: The status of poet is a cultural recognition. There is no way to attain that status without the recognition of your fellow humans. It doesn’t matter how well you write; if your words don’t make it into the realm of readers, you aren’t a poet because that status is acquired through a cycle of recognition that can’t begin unless the work is read.

    Note that Emily is recognized as a poet now-because we’ve read and appreciated her skill and facility and inventiveness and artistry. When her poems were sealed in a box, there was no chance of that.

    This fact is why I consistently come down-in the spectrum that spans the void between poetry as self-expression and poetry as communication-on the side of poetry as communication. I don’t mind if writers of poems spend their days writing out odes, sonnets, and free verse without intending to share them-no problem. If all they want to do is talk to themselves, I don’t mind-I have enough to read already. No matter how sad it is, we can’t read poems, no matter how great they are, unless we can see them. Without the actual communication with an audience that the act of writing itself implies, however, the poem is pointless (in a cultural and literary sense) , and the poet will never be recognized.

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